During the London Olympics, I did a daily ‘Power Rankings’ after each round of matches. In the absence of any better ideas, I thought I would do the same again. So without further ado, let’s see how the teams are doing after the first day of matches. Bear in mind that I don’t watch every match.
MEN’S OLYMPIC VOLLEYBALL POWER RANKINGS DAY 1
current rank 1 (last rank 1) BRAZIL – One set lost to Mexico but no harm no foul. Still favourites.
2 (3) POLAND – They were not tested but you can only play the match you are playing and they were focused and efficient.
3 (9) ITALY – It was partly tongue in cheek that I picked them to miss the quarter finals, but also partly because of their deeply disappointing World League Finals performances. The great Italian teams of the past suffocated their opponents with exceptional block and defence. In the last years they modified their game style to ‘try to serve more aces’. In fairness this a) fit their personnel and b) worked. The win against France was a throwback to those great teams of the past and the best I have seen an Italian play for at least ten years. It makes it interesting.
4 (4) RUSSIA – Nothing to see here.
5 (2) FRANCE – It is not common to play matches at 9.20 in the morning. That’s all I’ve got. They looked completely out of sorts. It is weird to watch such great players playing at that level. I am sure they will bounce back. Pretty sure, at least.
6 (8) CANADA – I expected Canada to play better than their most recent results which is why I picked them to snag one great win and make the quarters. I didn’t figure that win would be against the USA, or in such a dominating manner. On the basis of the first day’s performances they are probably looking at France as a winnable game, which gives them a shot at the semis…
7 (6) ARGENTINA – That Argentina would win 3-0 versus Iran should not be a surprise. I don’t know what it says about volleyball that somehow it is. It is noteworthy though that their starting opposite didn’t make it through the game. They can’t rely only on Conte to beat top teams.
8 (8) IRAN – Not the 8th best team, but should make the quarter finals from that pool. Were probably nervous in their first Olympic match.
9 (5) USA – I raised the question in my preview whether USA would be able to regain their form from last year’s World Cup. My answer was maybe. The evidence of the first day is, however, a fairly resounding no. Overall they seemed disjointed and out of sync. The setter completely missed the middles on more than one occasion and a few spikes found their way directly to the spectators. Three days ago they were a medal contender. Now they are in danger of missing the quarters.
10-12 (10-12) – Mexico (10) and Cuba (11) were able win sets against medal contenders. Egypt (12) were not, and lost their starting opposite to injury.
See you tomorrow.